The Ceilidh Dress – Bodice

Progress is at last being made on the ceilidh dress!

The bodice is going to be made from Simplicity 4401. This was actually a major factor in the hold up as I was waiting for the pattern to come on sale. But finally it did, and I was able to buy it and start work!


I always take much more notice of the line drawings of patterns than I do of the picture on the envelope because a garment can look completely different when it’s been made up in a different fabric and worn on a different person. The line drawings here told me that I wanted a combination of bodices B and C – the construction lines and lack of gathers of B combined with the sweetheart neckline and shoulder straps of C.

Unfortunately, this has not been terribly straight forward, and if you take a look at the sketches of the pattern pieces, you can see why. Bodice B is strapless and princess seamed, formed by piece 1 (cut on the fold) and a piece 2 on either side. Look how angular the lines are compared to the single pattern piece 9 for bodice C (also cut on the fold):

(disclaimer: these are all approximate sketches, not the accurate pattern pieces)

Also look how much piece 9 swings out at the side compared to the shape you’d expect for a normal body. That’s because bodies are 3D! See that bulbous, curvy bit at the bottom of the piece? That’s where the fabric gets drawn together in gathers, which has the effect of swinging the angle of the side seam round.

My challenge has been to combine the two designs, and then do an FBA (‘full bust adjustment’)

So the first thing I did was to do all the lengthening alterations that I always need regardless of design – on these pieces that just corresponded to half an inch between shoulder and high bust. Then I laid each of pieces 1 and 2 on piece 9 in turn and traced off the bits of each piece that I knew I wanted (corresponding to the red lines in the pictures below) and made an informed guess at the new curve I’d need to get the new seams to fit together correctly (the blue dashes).

This was tricky, especially as I kept having to remind myself that envelope patterns such as this one have the seam allowances included in the pieces.

Finally I performed an FBA and made a muslin out of an old bedsheet.

The first muslin wasn’t great. I think that most of the problems actually lay in the FBA – that I’d guessed a good two inches too high as to where the bust point actually was. But then I went back to the drafting board and on my second muslin, I think I’ve cracked it!

I’d love to show you pictures, but alas I cannot ask my normal photographer (J). The reason? Because when you’re doing fitting judgements it is imperative to wear the bra that you’ll be wearing with the final outfit, and I don’t want him catching sight of so much as a whisker of the wedding lingerie before he’s actually allowed to! But I am incredibly excited, and think that I may be able to re-use the pattern in a more everyday fabric for a pretty summer top. Design alterations aside, it does seem to be incredibly well drafted.

Next up: drafting a waistband and a circle skirt.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Flix
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 18:22:21

    I hope this is still with the intention of making the butterfly dress? I’m afraid I had to skip most of the technicalities, but I wish you luck with your creation 🙂


  2. Loti
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 21:30:04

    Ooooooooh. 😀

    That is all.


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